Organisational Leadership: Lessons from Professional Coaches
Leadership has been considered an essential part of business and society, although there has been little progress towards a workable definition. It has been assumed by organisational and sport researchers alike that sport coaching is a role that necessitates leadership. The notion that coaches are leaders has been explored primarily in youth sport and college athletics. As with leadership studies in general, results have been conflicting. Professional sport seems to provide a closer analog to corporate environments, so it may be a useful setting to study coaches as leaders. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve professional head coaches from the Australian Football League (AFL). The coaches were asked about their roles and the ways they lead. It was found that coaches have close relationships with their assistant staff and their players. Coaches facilitate and empower in order to achieve player development. Coaches were reticent to describe their activities as leadership or themselves as leaders. However, coaches were articulate when describing their players as leaders, and when describing their role in developing those players as leaders. This research suggests that leadership, as we have understood it thus far, is not reflected or represented in the way that these coaches perceive their work. Either professional coaching does not rest on leadership, or our views of leadership need substantial revision. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
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Volume (Year): 2 (1999)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
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